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FSA - Financial Services Authority
The FSA is the Financial Services Authority, the UK regulator of banking and insurance. The FSA is there to make sure financial services are properly run and properly advertised.
If you see a shop with the word "BANK" on a sign above the door, and you trust the people there to look after your money, it's important that you can actually get your money back later and that they haven't made off with it.
Also, if you borrow some money, you should not live in fear of the heavies being sent in, or the interest charges being increased arbitrarily.
And if you get an insurance policy and end up having to make a claim, the insurance company should pay up if that's what's stated in the contract.
The FSA are there to see fair play in the money market, so anything financial has to be advertised properly. You don't want to see advertisements claiming an interest rate and later find out it's wrong.
In the affiliate marketing business, companies in the finance and insurance sector are keen to make sure affiliates tell the truth and don't get them into trouble. Unfortunately there are some financial companies who misinterpret the rules of the FSA or maybe even hide behind the FSA in an attempt to silence freedom of speech. I've phoned the FSA and found they are friendly people and they are horrified to hear that some of the banks and finance companies are making such claims that the FSA rules forbid free comment and honest critique.
If you're an affiliate (of the type who writes pages of content, rather than just using splat advertising), it's essential that you have freedom of speech. Besides the obvious libertarian aspects to this, there's also the fact that people are much more likely to believe an honest review than they are to believe someone who's only allowed to say what they are told to.
I write pages about all kinds of things, and I speak from personal experience. There's nothing wrong with that, and as far as I know there's no FSA law against it. I'm careful to avoid mentioning precise interest rate figures as they are subject to change. Also, I'm not an official qualified financial advisor, so I'm not in the business of giving personal advice in what you should best do with your money, but I still give general financial advice such as "don't borrow more money than you can afford to pay back!" etc. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's up to you if you decide to listen to what I'm saying.
Also, as with any product or service, customer comment and reviews of personal experience are worth considering. You'll see this kind of thing all over the place at this site, for phone companies, hotels, shops, etc. Customer testimonials abound for a variety of businesses, and it's typical for a place to have both good and bad things said about it. This goes further than just being a sense of balance; it's the truth. I speak as I find.
The FSA isn't there to silence honest critique, so when companies demand compliance with a strict editorial control policy where the affiliate is only allowed to say what the merchant allows them to say, it's not because of the FSA regulations, but more a matter of the company having a funny idea about restricting what's said, and then blaming it on the FSA. That's not fair, and companies indulging in that form of unfairness risk getting written about! (Expelling the affiliate from the affiliate program won't prevent this).
To be fair to the financial companies involved, it's got to be mentioned that sometimes their ruling (and blaming it on the FSA) is not always a cynical attempt to put an end to any critical review, and sometimes it's just a misunderstanding. They assume that the FSA rules say they've got to keep control of what's being said, but this isn't what the actual rules say. The FSA are trying to eliminate misleading advertising, misrepresentation, unfair promotion of one company over another, etc. These reasonable objectives can be achieved without having a clampdown on free speech. So, let's see the banks and insurance companies stop blaming the FSA!
I'll tell you a story and you can see how this can all work and be reasonable. I went travelling so I took out a travel insurance policy. While I was on holiday I caught a tropical fever and had to go into hospital for two days. This was expensive, but the travel insurance company paid up. The editorial is my own story of travel insurance which is an account of what happened. The fact that I'm an affiliate doesn't change the truth of it.
Another first-hand experience expressed as a review of a financial company can be seen where I opened a bank account and invested some money and it did quite well. Although a review of a bank account might not be the most enthralling tale, it's the truth, and might be interesting if you are wondering about opening a bank account.
I also say you should open a bank account, but it's up to you where you open it, and that's where you can see a wide choice of banks, finance contacts, savings accounts, etc, featured at this site.
Some of the places I have affiliate programs with, and some I don't have. Incidentally, I don't have an affiliate program with the FSA, but that's not stopping me showing you the link to the place:
Link here to visit the FSA
The official site of the FSA is www.fsa.gov.uk and this review page is at Zyra's independent website www.zyra.org.uk
As well as seeing fair play in the finance market, the FSA are also in the business of helping to improve financial awareness. There's a helpful basic financial advice section at www.moneymadeclear.fsa.gov.uk (gone)
As well as the FSA, there's also the FSCS to help folks cope with the financial business.